Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

This Man Is Helping Explorers Carry out Scientific Research at the Ends of the Earth

Adventure
Gregg Treinish is the founder of Adventure Scientists and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. adventurescientists.org / our

By Robin Pomeroy

For the great explorers of the 19th and 20th centuries, the prime motivation was getting to places no one had been before: "Because it's there," is what British mountaineer George Mallory famously replied when asked why he wanted to climb Everest.

But no longer. With all the biggest peaks climbed, poles reached and jungles explored, modern-day Mallories are seeking to solve even bigger challenges.


"It's not enough to be just an explorer any more, it's 'been there, done that,'" said Gregg Treinish, who recruits today's adventurers to conduct scientific research in some of the world's most inaccessible places.

Over the last decade, Treinish's organization Adventure Scientists has co-opted thousands of adventure travelers to do the field research that lab-based researchers could not. One of the first projects was getting Everest mountaineers to obtain samples of plants growing at almost impossibly high altitudes. U.S. researchers were able to determine how that moss could survive in such extreme conditions and used the results to develop methods of increasing yields and protecting crops from adverse weather events.

On the sea, Adventure Scientists has used a network of 6,000 citizen researchers to build what it believes is the world's biggest database on microplastics in oceans around the world.

Treinish has been named on of the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders (YGLs) for 2020 - joining an illustrious network of influential people aiming to improve the planet, alongside U.S. soccer star and gender equality campaigner Megan Rapinoe, and whose alumuni include actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, Google co-founder Larry Page and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his office in Bozeman, a small city in Montana near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 30-year-old Treinish is close to nature. But he did not start life there.

Growing up far from the mountains, in Cleveland, Ohio, he was thrown out of high school for, in his words, "being a jerk." After a troubled childhood he found a form of redemption by communing with nature.

One of his first adventures was walking the Appalachian Trail - a hiking route in the eastern U.S. which at 2,200 miles (3,500 km) may be the longest in the world. It was there that, aged 22, he had his eureka moment.

"Half way through the trail, my girlfriend dumped me," Treinish said. In frustration, he threw a rock against a tree, gouging a hole in it - something that made him realize how selfish he was being. Heading into the wilderness was not enough – he knew he had to give something back.

For a while Treinish provided "wilderness therapy," taking teenagers struggling with drug and alcohol problems into the wild, and later turned to scientific research.

"I wanted two things: to understand ecology and to fight for plants, animals and the environment."

The reach of Adventure Scientists around the world. Adventure Scientists

Adventure Scientists trains the volunteers - most of them non-scientists - on how to collect data and samples with scientific rigor. And Treinish says he now wants to encourage scientists to use his network to be even more ambitious with their work.

"Take the blinkers off - how big are the questions that scientists can ask?"

And for explorers, the big scientific questions are the challenges they are seeking.

"In the early 20th century it was the biggest, the furthest, etc," Treinish said. "People are now motivated again by these incredible challenges."

Find out more about the Young Global Leaders class of 2020 here.

Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Activists of Greenpeace and Fridays For Future demonstrate on a canal in front of the cooling tower of the coal-fired power plant Datteln 4 of power supplier Uniper in Datteln, western Germany, on May 20. INA FASSBENDER / AFP / Getty Images

The Bundestag and Bundesrat — Germany's lower and upper houses of parliament — passed legislation on Friday that would phase out coal use in the country in less than two decades as part of a road map to reduce carbon emissions.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Tara Lohan

Would you like to take a crack at solving climate change? Or at least creating a road map of how we could do it?

Read More Show Less
Climate campaigners and Indigenous peoples across Canada have spent the past several years protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. Mark Klotz / Flickr / cc

By Elana Sulakshana

Rainforest Action Network recently uncovered a document that lists the 11 companies that are currently insuring the controversial Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada. These global insurance giants are providing more than USD$500 million in coverage for the massive risks of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, and they're also lined up to cover the expansion project.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Leah Campbell

After several months of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many households are beginning to experience family burnout from spending so much time together.

Read More Show Less
Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less